“We’ve been farming here since the 1840s. It’s definitely part of who I am,” says Dan Baum. Yet, the Illinois producer continues, “Realistically, I am not in the business just to say I am farming. I am making a living.”
Making that living, however, is a whole different scenario than it was even in his father’s generation, as the need for good communication and efficient machinery has become paramount for today’s farmer.
In west-central Illinois, farmland is typically held closely, especially the highest value land. With area land values having more than doubled since 2004, it’s attracted a lot of investor interest and, as a result, increased competition for farm properties. That’s one reason why the Baums’ acreage base extends almost 120 miles from their home farm near Geneseo, Ill.
For the Baum family, such a sprawling operation has spawned the need for new farm management ideas. “It does cause some of our operational costs to be higher for things like fuel, but we try to think about all of that when planning for those farms” Baum says. This approach puts a premium on performance, and that’s a big reason the Baums chose the Massey Ferguson 9545 combine to get the job done.
“We’re looking at fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and simplicity of design,” he says. His AGCO-made equipment fits that bill.
Another challenge Baum and other farmers face today is that newer generations of landowners have less direct ties to the land. As a result, producers can find themselves hammering out farmland lease and ownership deals in a much different way than in decades past. As a result, Baum takes care to devote more attention to education and information-sharing with his landowners.
“We are working on a land deal right now that is only happening because of our focus on communication,” says Baum. “It’s a lot of time and energy. And, it can be tough at times of the year when you really need to be out planting corn.
“We’ve had land opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise because of our communication levels,” he continues. “We’re aware that we need to continue this work to keep those opportunities growing in the future.”
On Cody Waters’ first day of basic training, sirens sounded the lockdown of Fort Benning, Ga. “We’re going to war, boys,” a fellow soldier solemnly said.
It was Sept. 11, 2001. Waters, then an 18-year-old farm kid from Illinois, had followed family tradition by enlisting. Both of his parents served in the Vietnam War, while generations before them had enlisted as well. A desire to protect and serve the homeland was ingrained long before he was issued his dog tags.
What was not known at the time was that Waters would become part of a generation of soldiers who has never known peacetime service. He’s now also part of an armed force that has served more tours of duty than soldiers of any other era.
Back on 9/11, confusion, and then ire, set in for Waters as details emerged of the attack on U.S. soil. “It made me angry,” he says. “It made me feel more justified in being there. I wasn’t just serving my country. There was a need to serve.”
Waters, who’s been deployed overseas two times in his 15-year career with the Army National Guard, has helped Afghan farmers improve their farming operations when he served as part of an Agribusiness Development Team. While in that war-torn country, where he witnessed an ingenuity similar to farmers back home, Waters helped teach Afghans to improve farming methods, including use of more modern machinery. Previously, many used water buffalo or older tractors, often borrowed and in scarce supply, to pull plows.
These days, the company commander of the Forward Support Company of the 1140th Engineer Battalion of Missouri Army National Guard, Waters spends one weekend a month on Guard duty and two weeks in summer training camp. He walks a tightrope of working full time by day, farming small acreages in two states, Guard duty, education and family—he and his wife have two young sons. “We try to be good stewards of our time,” he says. “We don’t waste any.”
Nationally, 2.4 million veterans returned to civilian life in the United States in the past 13 years. Another 1 million post-9/11 veterans are expected to return in the next five years, and more than 40,000 to Canada.
Only 17% of the U.S. population lives in rural America, but 44% of the military comes from the countryside, according to U.S. Census data. In rural Missouri alone, where Waters now lives and farms, some 300,000 vets are expected to come home in the next decade. Many expect to return to their rural roots where a rooster’s crow—not mortars exploding—wakens them.
To all service personnel, those currently serving and veterans, and to all our customers and readers, we wish you a happy Independence Day and Canada Day.
Dave and Kim Everett rely on a Massey Ferguson® GC1705, a 22-HP sub-compact tractor suitable for a variety of jobs. Seven months of the year it mainly helps mow 4 acres worth of grass on Big Sandy Mush Farm. “With a belly mower, the 1705 is just what we need to make short work of the lawn around the farmhouse and the grass on uneven terrain between our roads and fencelines,” Dave says. The tractor has also been used to skid steel feed troughs around their livestock pastures. “Ours has industrial tires, which provide great traction without damaging the ground,” he adds.
“It has the pulling power to handle the gamut of small tractor chores, including those requiring PTO attachments. “The diesel-fueled 1705, in terms of build quality and control setup, is entirely compatible with the bigger boys,” says Dave.
He also uses a 6-year-old MF1540 with 4WD. “The bucket attachment has moved many tons of dirt and manure and, literally, a couple of million pounds of field rock—all without problems,” Dave says. “The 1540 is our go-to tractor for use on sloped terrain,” and, he continues, the shuttle shift provides instant availability of proper speed ranges for the conditions on his farm.
Dave is just as effusive about his dealer, Western Carolina Lawn & Tractor in Sylva. “This business understands that great products need commensurately fine dealer representation in order to earn customer loyalty,” he says. “They couldn’t be easier or better people with whom to do business.”
In the bucolic Sandy Mush area, such preservation efforts are not as easy as they may sound. The region—actually two valleys with several coves in each—is within 15 miles of the bustling mountain tourist mecca of Asheville, N.C. Nearby mountains and valleys are prime targets for vacation and second home developments consisting of 3,500-square-foot “cabins.” Kim and Dave themselves first used the area as a getaway when living near Washington, D.C.
Simply put, the value of the land in the area is worth a lot more for development than it is for farming or open space.
Despite that, owners of nearly 25% of the valley’s land (approximately 7,000 acres) have placed their property in conservation easements.
“To me this is the embodiment of what we’re trying to do with our land,” Dave says, nodding toward the fields, woods and streams spread out below, much of which he and his wife have helped restore and preserve. “We said that we want this farm to be recognizable to folks who lived here 100 years before us.”
See more about their story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/preserving-a-farms-beauty-in-north-carolinas-big-sandy-mush/, and find out more about how conservation easements work at http://www.myfarmlife.com/asides/how-a-conservation-easement-works/.
As the owner of Bristow Landscaping in Wake Forest, N.C., Logan Bristow relies on his Massey Ferguson tractors and Woods Equipment Company landscape implements virtually every day of the year. While the most often used machines are a MF1540 compact tractor and a Woods counter-rotating tiller, he also owns several other pieces of Massey Ferguson and Woods equipment. All of the machines, he relates, were purchased from Louisburg Tractor & Truck Company in Louisburg, N.C.
“Part of the reason I have so much equipment from both brands is the good relationship I have with the dealer,” he says. “But I also like the durability and versatility of the equipment. We’ve never once had a problem with Woods implements, and the MF1540, in particular, is small enough to get in tight areas, yet powerful enough to run the tiller in tough conditions.”
While Massey Ferguson dealers and Woods have had a long-running affiliation, that relationship has expanded at the company level, says Alistair McLelland, AGCO vice president of marketing, North America. In an effort to provide Massey Ferguson customers with the highest quality implements available anywhere, AGCO Corporation and Woods have joined together to market a full line of Woods rotary cutters, finishing mowers, flail shredders, rear-mounted snow blowers and landscape equipment through participating Massey Ferguson dealerships.
AGCO’s Massey Ferguson Manufacturing Facility at Beauvais, France, has been presented with France’s prestigious Factory of the Year 2016 award.
The Beauvais site in Picardy beat ten other shortlisted factories from a wide range of industries in France to win the title.
The Factory of the Year Awards are organised by “L’Usine Nouvelle”, the leading industrial magazine in France. In selecting the overall Factory of the Year Award winner, the Jury looked for a facility that has demonstrated an in-depth transformation initiative and delivered significant performance gains including increases in productivity, quality, competitiveness and market share. Key partner of the awards event and a member of the judging panel is Boston Consulting Group, a leading global management and business strategy specialist.
Operated by Massey Ferguson’s parent company, AGCO, which is headquartered in Duluth in the United States, the AGCO Beauvais site designs and manufactures Massey Ferguson tractors from 75-400 hp. It is France’s largest producer and exporter of farm machinery. Some 14,500 tractors leave the assembly lines each year, 85% of which are shipped to markets all over the world. In the last 12 months, four new MF tractor ranges built at the plant have been unveiled for global markets.
The Factory of the Year award recognises the AGCO Beauvais facility’s successful and wide-ranging reorganisation project known as MF Fast Forward. The plant has seen significant productivity gains through the implementation of Lean Manufacturing processes, 5S good housekeeping techniques and the Hoshin Kanri Continuous Improvement Strategy.
In addition, the Jury highlighted the site’s Quality Transformation Initiative and the clear commitment of Beauvais employees to the transformation process. Latest in-house figures from the plant show a rise in manufacturing quality levels, while Massey Ferguson’s Customer Satisfaction Index reveals improvements in perceived quality by end-users. For example, non-conformances in the production process have been reduced by more than 40% during the last two years from what was already a very good base. Massey Ferguson’s comprehensive Customer Satisfaction survey reveals that in respect of tractor product quality at the point of delivery, the ‘positive answers’ ratio from end-users has moved up to 94% in less than five years.
“It is a privilege and honour to win this coveted award,” says Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director, Massey Ferguson, Europe, Africa, Middle East. “It is a tribute to our 2500-strong workforce at Beauvais who have been the architects of the factory’s major transformation over the last five years. This latest accolade is yet another milestone in our relentless pursuit of continuous improvement to ensure our customers get the very best products for their farm businesses.”
“The award comes in addition the prize won by the Beauvais site earlier this year as France’s Best Foreign Exporter,” he continues. “High-quality manufacturing is at the heart of the renowned reliability and dependability of Massey Ferguson equipment. This, coupled with our leading design and engineering, is ensuring that our famous ‘Triple Triangle’ brand continues to move ahead. Massey Ferguson’s market share increased again across the Europe, Africa, Middle East region last year – the 6th consecutive year we have increased this figure.”
Commenting, Boussad Bouaouli, Vice-President Manufacturing Beauvais says: “The Beauvais Quality Transformation Initiative is part of AGCO’s global objective to be N°1 in Perceived Quality and was considered an outstanding achievement by the Factory of the Year Award Jury members. It illustrates every single employee’s dedication to deliver ‘best in class quality’ for each individual tractor on the production the line. We are thrilled to receive the title of Factory of the Year and congratulate all our employees in Beauvais. This award is truly the result of their commitment and hard work.”